Tag Archives: Antoine Griezmann

Diego Costa denies dream send-off for Arsene Wenger

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Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger was denied a last chance to lift silverware after the Gunners were beaten by 2-1 on aggregate by Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-final.

With the score 1-1 from the first leg, former Chelsea striker Diego Costa returned to the Atletico side to haunt the Gunners again, scoring from a composed chip on the brink of half-time which ended their European hopes.

Antoine Griezmann, who scored Atletico’s away goal at the Emirates, slipped the crucial pass through to Costa after coming close with a powerful strike from a tight angle.

Arsenal were crestfallen going into the break but almost responded within minutes of the restart when Aaron Ramsey found himself through on goal. However, his touch let him down and the chance was wasted — as were a number of opportunities for the visitors throughout the second half.

It was a bad night made worse for Arsenal when captain Laurent Koscielny was carried off with an Achilles injury, which may rule the Frenchman out of this summer’s World Cup.

Two-time champions Atletico will now face Marseille in their third Europa League final in eight years in Lyon on 16 May, while defeat for Arsenal means they will miss out on Champions League football for the second straight season.

Wenger, who will leave the Gunners at the end of the season after 22 years in charge, has never won a European trophy with the club.

Lionel Messi free-kick sends Barca eight points clear in La Liga

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A Lionel Messi free-kick was enough for FC Barcelona to defeat nearest challengers Atletico Madrid with a 1-0 win at the Nou Camp and establish an eight-point advantage.

The result meant that to overtake Barca, Atletico would need to win all their remaining games — including a trip to face local rivals Real Madrid in early trip — and hope that Barca lose three of their remaining 11 games.

Nonetheless, it was a deserved win for the Catalan team although they also had several chances to add to their tally, chief among them a fierce left-footed volley by the excellent Sergio Busquets from a corner, forcing Atletico keeper Jan Oblak into a smart reflex save.

However, Messi’s goal — a landmark 600th of his illustrious career — after after 25 minutes was all his team needed to step closer to another La Liga title as he breached a stubborn Atletico defence that has only conceded 12 goals in 27 league games.

Atletico did not throw in the towel easily despite conceding either, as their manager Diego Simeone opted to pour men forward finished with four forwards in a bold 4-2-4 formation, with Diego Costa, Antoine Griezmann, Kevin Gameiro and Angel Correa up front and starting to target direct long balls in the direction of Costa.

It was unlucky for the Madrid team that their striker Costa was heavily subdued by the excellent home central defensive pairing of Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti, while Griezmann couldn’t maintain his golden form after coming into the game on the back of consecutive hat-tricks.

The only possible negative of the afternoon for Barca was the loss of skipper Iniesta with a hamstring injury, which is likely to keep him out of action for around a month.

If that comes to pass, it would meant that Iniesta would not be able to feature in the second leg of the Champions League tie with Chelsea, and could also miss the first leg of the quarter-finals should Barca be able to progress after having drew 1-1 in the first leg away against the London team.

Atletico Madrid reports FC Barcelona to FIFA over Griezmann approach

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La Liga club Atletico Madrid have reported their domestic title rivals FC Barcelona to FIFA for making an illegal approach for their French forward Antoine Griezmann.

Griezmann, 26, who signed a contract with Atletico in the summer lasting until 2021 to ward off interest from numerous suitors such as Manchester United amidst a transfer embargo placed against the Madrid club.

However, he became the subject of increased speculation over recent days after Barca’s director of institutional relations hinted it was “possible” that the club’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, had held talks with the 26-year-old’s family.

This goes in direct violation against FIFA rules, which say that a team interested in signing a player must first make contact with his club before being allowed to hold negotiations, with Atletico therefore taking the case towards the world governing body.

“Atlético Madrid have reported Barcelona for repeated contact with Griezmann and his people, contact which we are aware of,” a spokesman for Atletico told Mundo Deportivo. “He is a player with a contract with Atlético Madrid and a long contract at that.”

A FIFA spokesman has confirmed that the complaint had been received.

Griezmann has a release clause in his contract set at €100m (£88.4m) but a report last week suggested that Barca’s technical director Roberto Fernandez having already held talks with the Frenchman’s entourage, with Guillermo Amor later admitting the club are interested in signing him.

“If that’s what the newspaper said, it’s possible …” Amor told Movistar+. “Maybe there’s been a meeting and things have advanced, although I don’t know. Rumours are inevitable in football.”

“In the case of Griezmann, there are a lot of players we could be talking with, initiating some kind of relationship if there’s an opportunity. We’re obliged to have contact with players. It’s something which is done.”

Diego Simeone praises Lionel Messi after La Liga draw

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Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has showered praise upon FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi after the forward starred in a draw with Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

Although Saul Niguez and Luis Suarez were on the scoresheet as Atletico Madrid took on Barca in the 1-1 draw, Messi had great influence in the game — first striking the post in the second half and then playing a role in building Barca’s momentum ahead of Suarez’s late equaliser after Saul unleashed an unstoppable attempt beyond him from 25 yards in the 21st minute.

After the game, Simeone singled out his compatriot — who also fired Argentina to the 2018 World Cup with a hat-trick against Ecuador earlier — for particular praise as he revelled in the occasion at Wanda Metropolitano.

“The stadium was wonderful, we had another night of brilliant football, and with the impressive Messi — extraordinary,” Simeone said. “Messi was the only one who you could see where, every time he touched the ball, something different could happen.”

“He was certainly not as tired as many expected after the trip [from international duty in South America] because he played a tremendous match.”

Meanwhile, French forward Antoine Griezmann failed to find the net at the Wanda for the first time for Atleti, but Simeone believed this was his best performance at the stadium yet.

Indeed, Griezmann had to be denied twice by Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, first by a fine one-handed save at his near post after Andrés Iniesta gave away the ball again, this time with his left leg, after the Frenchman had driven into the box by nutmegging Gerard Pique.

“For me, this was the best game that Griezmann has had at home,” he said. “He twice worked the goalkeeper, he countered with [Angel] Correa and he held the ball up well.”

“It was a great game between two teams with different characteristics. Our first half was very good, the goalkeeper [ter Stegen] was key. From the 60th minute, Barca attacked with more clarity due to their need to score.”